A decisive response

As reported in the Oct. 8 edition of The Minnesota Daily, an investigative committee assembled to analyze controversial results produced by a University researcher ruled that data that had appeared in a federally-funded stem cell study had been falsified. Albeit not as grievous an ethical infraction as fabrication âÄî the wholesale invention of data âÄî the committeeâÄôs finding declares that the data produced had been altered or otherwise misrepresented and was unworthy of publication, as evidenced by the committeeâÄôs call to retract the article in which the challenged data appeared. While the committeeâÄôs findings do not squarely place the blame on any one person, there is no dispute that ethical misconduct occurred, and the University deserves praise for its role in investigating the matter and disavowing the results. The issue originally was brought to the attention of the public though an article published in âÄúNew ScientistâÄù describing irregularities in the results, and the UniversityâÄôs decision to respond reflects a sense of accountability. In pursuing the matter, the University assembled a committee comprised of three eminent biochemists, including professor David Bernlohr, a distinguished McKnight professor, and two professors affiliated with outside institutions. Amid the recent controversies regarding conflicts of interest in biomedical research affairs, taking steps to enforce strict ethical standards preserves the reputation of the University and the veracity of research generated by it. Furthermore, this sends an important message to the academic community as a whole: misrepresenting your academic work will not go unnoticed.